Greetings from Beirut, and apologies for the brief blogging hiatus: I’ve been busy, and I anticipate that next week will be even busier than this one. Here are some thoughts on the week’s big news items.
I don’t quite understand what all the fuss is about TIME Magazine’s interview with someone claiming to be an STL indictee. Hezbollah denounced the interview and said that it was fabricated. The Angry Arab concurred. March 14 supporters insisted it was the real thing. Nick Blanford distanced himself from it. The Miqati government has rushed to deny that the interview could ever have taken place. Several days later, people are still arguing about whether the transcript was for real, or whether it was co-written by Condoleezza Rice and Detlev Mehlis on Saad al-Hariri’s yacht off the coast of Sardinia.
What no one has explained to me is why the “damaging” statement made by the alleged interviewee (i.e., “The Lebanese authorities know where I live, and if they wanted to arrest me they would have done it a long time ago…”) is such a big deal in the first place. Didn’t Hassan Nasrallah make the same point himself? None of Hezbollah’s leaders have claimed that these four men are missing or hiding or otherwise unlocateable by the Lebanese police. Nasrallah has described them as upstanding citizens, not renegades, and he has also said that no Lebanese government — not one led by Najib Miqati, nor one led by Saad Hariri — would dare arrest them. So why are people so up in arms about an interview that basically repeated what Nasrallah said?
For a party that is supposedly so dedicated to transparency and accountability, one would think that the FPM would have deployed its media wing to publicize Gebran Bassil’s proposal to revamp Lebanon’s electicity sector. Al-Diyar cannot compete with OTV; so why is this deal being negotiated in back rooms and Riyadh?
I also recall a great deal of rhetoric a few years ago from the FPM about the need to solve Lebanon’s energy problems with renewable sources. What percentage of the $1.2 billion will be devoted to wind farms, solar cells, hydroelectric dams, etc? After the party’s ideological compromises on electoral reform, deconfessionalism, and the situation in Syria, I have very little faith that they will do the right thing when it comes to energy and the environment.
It’s true: we’re finally getting faster internet speeds in Lebanon. I hope this spurs more innovation and independence in Lebanon’s media sector, and that a new generation of video bloggers and cyber-activists emerge who will speak the truth to power, at least while they’re not streaming porn, downloading pirated movies, and playing network games.